A consistent approach for New Zealand. Synopsis of Ministry of Health Workshop, April 2015
In the past decade, pertussis has made a global resurgence, driving reconsideration of national immunisation schedules and vaccine usage. A workshop held by the Ministry of Health in 2015 discussed New Zealand’s pertussis disease control strategies. Data were presented from current research into vaccine safety during pregnancy and the effectiveness of the immunisation schedule in preventing pertussis throughout childhood. The greatest burden of disease and mortality remains in infants under 1 year of age, especially infants too young to be immunised, those of Māori and Pacific ethnicity, and those living in deprivation. The workshop considered strategies including the timing of the scheduled vaccines, maternal immunisation, improving immunisation coverage, vaccination timeliness and service delivery to reduce inequalities and overall disease burden. It concluded that the current infant schedule appears to be working well to protect older infants from severe pertussis. Significant gains for reducing severe disease in vulnerable young infants could be made with improvements in maternal vaccine uptake. Other strategic directions include attention to schedule adherence and timeliness of vaccine delivery, and more effective communication approaches for healthcare professionals and the public.